I know the ten commandments suggest not to, but sometimes, thou SHALT lie:
If you’re on a night out, your friend asks whether her hair looks weird – and it does, and there’s nothing she can do about it right now, tell her no. If your brother was right in the middle of an important interview and accidentally let out a massive (and noisy) fart, then he asks you – mortified – if you think the interviewers laughed at him after he left, say, “They probably don’t even remember”.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I’m usually all about not lying – not being a fake, schmoozy, gross caricature of everything people hate about networking.
But sometimes: you need to. Here are those times:
(1) When extracting yourself from…read more
I bloody love reading advice columns.
When I worked in radio, I used to make all my interns tear out the “Dear Deidre”s from the back of the tabloids, so I could read them on the train home. The only German I know is from translating Teen Mag problem pages when I was a teenager (“Ich schwärme für ihn! Er ist sehr gutaussehend und frech!”*).
And, as a coach, it’s in my nature to LOVE giving my suggestions for solving other people’s problems. As one ex- described me, I’m “violently helpful”.
So: I am THRILLED to announce a new sporadic feature:
ASK (YES YES) MARSH
And today: networking – and flirting.
Anonymous Gentleman writes:
I was wondering…read more
I grabbed the stranger by her shoulders and she stopped talking, mid-sentence – shocked.
“Dude,” I lowered my voice, and looked straight in her eyes. “What. Makes you think. That I care this much about you? You called this meeting. I have a lot to do today. I don’t even want to be here. STOP. TALKING. ONLY. ABOUT. YOURSELF. It is SO. BORING.”read more
This was one of the most frightening moments of my life.
I’d like to say it was formative, but I’m not sure how much I learned from it, except for “Take Your Friends Seriously When They Warn You Of Danger”.
So many blogs on YesYesMarsha.com are messages wrapped in stories – the one with the guy who seduced every lady he looked at; the one where I taught myself to stop being shy and became confident; the one where I was a Zombie Nun Queer Slow Dancer.
And so much of networking is about telling a story – the story of What Do You Do; the stories you tell to Industry Friends that bond you together; the stories you hear when you’re asking the right questions.
I thought it was about time I just let you hear a straight up story for the sake of a story. No message, no lesson – just a gripping (true!) yarn, about the time I had to move out of my apartment so that I didn’t get killed…read more
I bloody love talking about this stuff. The whole reason I got into networking coaching was because I was doing it for free my whole life:
It’s what I would corner people at parties for – “Oh, you’re trying to get a job? Here’s what you should be doing” “You’re in a band? Here’s how you can get noticed”
Because my landlord doesn’t accept Good Karma in lieu of rent (SO unreasonable), at some point, I had to stop doing all my coaching for free.
But sometimes, I still sneak some free in.
A perfect example? When I’m interviewed.
I recently spent a really fun hour taking to Jordan Harbinger for The Art of Charm podcast. Their tagline is “Where Ordinary Guys Become…read more
I GASPED AWAKE.
After three seconds of confused, soft stillness, everything caught up and my headache came crashing in.
Squinting at the clock – it was 11:30am – I tried to piece together what was going on.
Oh yes. The Christmas party.
I was 22 years old and very, very hungover. The night before…read more
“We have to take our shoes off”
“Won’t we slip over?”
“It looks like you just have to. Oh, and you pay on the way out. I guess it’s so that people can turn up late”
It was Monday night, I was stone cold sober, and about to dance for a solid hour in a room full of people.
In the pitch black…read more
I bit my lip, and hit “reply” to the text message.
‘That sounds exciting and scary’, I wrote. ‘Can I think about it and let you know?’
My friend Erin had just asked whether I would join her to be a Designated Dancer at Queer Slow Dance.
Queer Slow Dance is a regular night in Toronto (and Montreal) that pretty much does what it says on the tin. And my job as a Designated Dancer would be to spend two hours asking strangers to slow dance with me, gently easing the wallflowers from their seats and helping them to feel included.
It sounded terrifying.
Partly because of the concept. Slow dancing isn’t really a thing we DO in the UK. My only experience was once, at my summer camp, when a Much Older Boy asked me if I’d slow dance with him. I remember finding it awkward and a bit too grown up to be comfortable.
But I was most scared of having to walk up to strangers and ask them to dance.
What if they say no?
What if EVERYONE says no?…read more
Within my career to date, it was the bravest move I’d ever made. Or maybe just the scariest.
Part of me couldn’t believe I was about to say this – to a TOTAL stranger. Someone I’d never spoken to before.
And at one of these events!
The kind I knew I should be at, but was terrified of. I’d only gone because my buddy Steve had said he would chum me. Then he got held up at work, but I hadn’t discovered this until I was outside the door. And I figured…well, I’m here. And I really need to meet some of these people.
After what felt like HOURS (but was more likely five minutes), I made the decision to do it. I spotted my target… walked up. And SAID IT…read more
I’m pretty sure it’s because of six year old girls that we all fear this.
You know the deal: you’re in the sunny schoolyard. You skip up to your two friends, excited to tell them the FUNNIEST thing that Stephen Henderson just did by the swings – when they turn to you, one of them screwing up her mouth, then saying,
“Sorry. Private con-ver-saaaation”.
Crushed, you slink away, feeling the hot burn of humiliation in your chest.
I actually don’t remember a specific incident where this happened, but the fact that imagining this scenario just now has given me such a visceral, physical shame reaction, tells me that it definitely did.
When you’re in a crowd – even if it’s a networking event or a conference, where protocol says it’s totally fine to walk up to strangers and introduce yourself – knowing who it is and isn’t ok to approach can take you right back to that hot summer afternoon.
What if you walk up and start talking – and they give you…read more